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federal budget

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is interviewed following the delivery of the budget on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, March 29, 2012.Patrick Doyle/Reuters

The federal government is standing by its controversial proposal to create a national securities regulator, saying Thursday it is still consulting with provinces about finding a new model that will win their support.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in December that the federal government could not proceed with a national securities regulator as it was proposed, ruling the federal legislation was an unconstitutional intrusion on provincial powers.

The ruling came after most provinces – with the exception of Ontario – appeared before Canada's top court last year to argue the national regulator proposal would erode the country's traditional distribution of powers between provinces and the federal government.

But Thursday's federal budget indicated Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is not giving up, announcing the government is now consulting with provinces and territories about alternatives.

The budget offered no further detail about how a new proposal could be structured to meet constitutional challenges, but said "a number" of provinces have "reaffirmed their interest in working on a co-operative basis toward a common securities regulator."

"A common securities regulator would give Canada a competitive advantage by reducing unnecessary compliance costs for issuers, strengthening our ability to respond to financial instability, enhancing enforcement and better serving the needs of all Canadians," the budget said.